Suicide

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Unfortunately, and despite recent opinion polls indicating that some 75% of Americans favor an individual's right to physician assisted suicide, only one state -- Oregon -- allows it. Worse, as of this writing, 35 states have statutes that explicitly criminalize it.

What gives? Well, there are plenty of arguments against physician-assisted suicide. First, opponents of assisted suicide say that it violates religious beliefs. Life is a gift from God and, so, it should only be taken away by God. If we begin to approve of suicide, we devalue life.

Second, asking for the assistance of a physician in such an instance goes against everything doctors have been trained to do. Doctors are not supposed to end our lives -- they're supposed to save them.

Then there is the danger of heading down that old slippery slope: once physician-assisted suicide is legalized, pressure will be placed on groups such as the elderly and those with serious illnesses to end their lives when this may not be their real desire.

Since hospitals are forever cutting costs, doctors may be urged to end the lives of those patients who act as the biggest financial drains on the system.

The counterargument - and the one I happen to embrace - is this: the issue is about each individual's right to choose. I am merely asking to be allowed to decide what to do when it comes to my own life. If assisted suicide conflicts with certain peoples' religious beliefs, fine. But my decision will not impact on others -- except that it will save taxpayers' money.

Doctors, it should be noted, already have to grapple with life and death decisions, as patients have the option to refuse life-support. In this sense, assisted suicide would not be something new. And it's similar to the life-support decision in another important way: in order to commence with an assisted suicide, a number of procedures have to be followed and many questions asked of the patient in order to ensure that the patient truly wants to end his or her life.

I'd rather die on my own terms than have people with very different views about life and death decide my fate. What do you think? Should assisted suicide by legalized? Is it wrong to bring such issues into the legal arena? http://www.thefence.com/Debate_Article.asp?forumid=25